EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Enemy Front Producer Stephen Skelton
As a bad Jew who likes shooting things from the first-person perspective, World War II first-person shooter are my jam. Or rather, they would be if I was young enough to have a jam. But while this genre hasn’t been seen much since Call Of Duty: World At War came out in 2008, its now being resurrected by Enemy Front, which C.I. Games will released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on June 13th. But in talking to producer Stephen Skelton, it’s clear that Enemy Front is trying to bring this old genre back with some new ideas.
Let’s start with the basics.
Sure. Enemy Front is a World War II first-person shooter. But it’s less of a linear experience where you’re going from one scripted scene where you shoot a bunch of guys, then move on to the next scripted scene where you shoot another bunch of guys. Our game has more of a sandbox feel, and you have a bunch of different ways to accomplish your objectives. You can run & gun, you can snipe, you can use stealth, and you can use any combination of them.
You also have binoculars, which you can use to mark bad guys from a distance, which puts them on your radar. It’ll even tell you which way they’re facing. There’s also a red bar around the compass that indicates how aware the bad guys in your position…
So it doesn’t register their level of alertness but instead how knowledgeable they are of where you are?
Correct. The color of the marks on the guys also turn red, and if they’re red, they’re alerted that something has happened, and they’ll be cautious about seeking it out. But if the red bar around the compass is full, it means they’re fully aware of where you are, and will come after you a little more aggressively.
But when you say the battlefield are open, this isn’t an open world game, is it?
No. The levels are large and expansive to give you more directions to go in. It’s not Grand Theft Auto, though you may have secondary objectives.
And then, in regards to how you can run & gun or snipe or be all sneaky, are there any rewards to that? Is this like Splinter Cell: Blacklist where, at the end of a mission, it told you how sneaky you were and how aggressive you had been, and then rewarded you accordingly?
No, it’s more about giving you tactical options. Some missions will lean more run & gun, and some will lean more towards stealth, but we don’t have any missions where you can only be a sniper or have to use stealth.
Does that mean you’ll always have a sniper rifle and a machine gun?
It depends on what you chose to carry with you. The shooter conventions are pretty standard, the controls are standard, so you can only carry two weapons along with a pistol.
Does the game have any kind of aim assist option?
On the console, yes, but not in the PC version. And it functions as you’d expect from other shooters.
Are there any other differences between the PC and console versions?
Not really. It’s just the controls.
Will you support modding on the PC?
We don’t have any plans to at this time to issue mod tools.
How historically accurate are the missions? Are you recreating famous battles or making stuff up?
They’re not accurate recreations of real events, but they are inspired by actual missions. So you won’t be storming the beaches at Normandy, again, but you do go on a mission to a heavy water factory in Norway, where there was a battle. Though what happens in the game isn’t exactly what happened in real life.
C.I. Games are based in Warsaw. Do you play the game as a Polish soldier?
No, you play as an American war correspondent who gets caught up in the war. Kind of like Hemingway on steroids. The game is centered around the Warsaw Uprising. Your character has come to Warsaw to witness the Uprising and cover it, and is telling the resistance what he’s been doing. So much of the game is told in flashback, and then the game culminates in the actual Uprising.
But why not make it about a Polish soldier?
Well, as a Polish studio, who are based in Warsaw, having the game centered around the Warsaw Uprising was very important. But by having the main character be an American soldier, and a war correspondent, it allowed us to have him go to all these different locations in the European theater — including German and France — with a greater degree of plausibility.
Are there any good Polish jokes in the game?
[chuckles] Yeah, but they’re all in Polish.
Ha! There’s been a lot of World War II first-person shooters over the years. When you were figuring out the fundamentals of Enemy Front, were there any other WWII shooters that you looked at and said, “We want ours to be like that”? Or, conversely, “Let’s not do anything like that”?
Well, as I said, we wanted to stay away from the heavily-scripted, narrow corridor kind of shooter, where you’re ushered from one big spectacle to another. We don’t do that. We have some scripted events, but what happens in generally inspired by what you do.
So it’s maybe more early Call Of Duty than the recent ones?
Yeah, I think so. But with bigger battlefields.
There was a Medal Of Honor that kind of had more open battlefield.
Yeah. I liked that one.
Also, like in some of the older Call Of Duty games, there are times when you’ll go it alone, but you’ll also go on missions with members of the resistance, but you don’t command them, they’re autonomous.
We also don’t have as many checkpoint saves than a more modern shooter. There isn’t a checkpoint every ten feet. Which means your choices are a bit more tactically meaningful.
So in regards to the sneaking around stuff, can you distraction techniques like how you can throw a bottle in Splinter Cell?
No, there’s none of that. But there are a lot of environmental things throughout the game that, depending on where they are, can either distract someone or kill them. For instance, you can shoot out the supports that are holding up a bunch of logs or shoot some explosives. In both cases, if someone is nearby, it might kill them. But it will also distract any of the enemies in the area. Though, of course, doing this puts everyone on high alert.
You can also sneak up behind guys and either take them out or grab them and use them as a human shield. And you can shoot people while you’re holding them hostage.
You can also pick up and hide bodies, which can be helpful because if the enemies see one, they’ll go on alert and even yell out and alert other enemies.
I’m guessing, based on what I’ve seen and the realistic tone this seems to be taking, that there’s not going to be any Nazi occult stuff in Enemy Front.
No, we’re going for historically accurate. We’re not doing Wolfenstein or even the secret stuff like in Secret Weapons Of The Luftwaffe.
A lot of World War II first-person shooters break things up with vehicle missions and parts where you have to man a turret. How much of that is there in Enemy Front?
It’s all pretty much these gun battles. There are some mounted machine guns, but they’re just part of the environment, there’s never a time when it’s the focus of the mission.
What about the health system?
It’s a modern regenerating style.
But it seems like it takes a while for your health to regenerate.
It does if you get hit really hard.
Now you guys previously made the 2010’s Sniper: Ghost Warrior and 2013’s Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2. Do you think fans of those games will like Enemy Front?
I think so. What I think makes it work well is that, as I said, you can go in guns blazing or use your sniper rifle or be sneaky, and you can go run & gun heavy or go sniper heavy or go stealth heavy as much as you want.
How do the sniping mechanics in this compare to those in the Sniper: Ghost Warrior games?
They’re not exactly the same, they’re a little simplified to fit in with the rest of the shooting mechanics, but they are similar. For instance, if you press in the left thumbstick, it’ll give you the same slow-mo that we use in the Ghost Warrior games, while you can also press in the thumbstick to slow your breathing.
But you don’t have to account for the wind or anything like that, right?
No, there’s none of that.
We’ve only been talking about and playing Enemy Front‘s campaign. But are there other modes?
Yeah. The campaign is the focus, but we do have multiplayer. The matches are twelve player, six on six, and we have “Deathmatch,” “Team Deathmatch,” and “Freedom Fighter,” which is similar to “Capture The Flag.”
And how many maps will there be at launch?
I don’t remember exactly. I think there’s four but I might not be right about that.
Are the multiplayer maps based on levels from the campaign?
Vaguely. They’re redesigned for multiplayer. So it’ll be the same places, but they buildings will be moved around to make it better for multiplayer.
Any DLC plans yet?
We’re not discussing that yet.
Is there a co-op mode?
Is there a reason that you’re not doing a version for either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One?
Just because a lot more people own Xbox 360s and PlayStation 3s.
Finally, how many hours did you guys spend debating whether it would be financially worthwhile to get The Who to rerecord “Eminence Front” as the game’s theme song?
Ha! Y’know, it would not surprise me if that was an actual discussion and a phone call.
3 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Enemy Front Producer Stephen Skelton”
Very good article, nice to read them. Enemy Front looks like CoD and MoH connection xD I’m don’t play in WWII shooter game so long:) Now thanks to CI Games I’ll be able to get back in their new game.
And just a few questions that had no answers have been answered! Very good article, is the perfect complement to the gameplay which has recently been shown. !
Thanks. I guess it helped that I went into this interview having no idea what this game was, outside of a WWII FPS.